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Tiga in France // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Nov 23, 2010

Meet Tiga, whose natural hair journey has spanned France, Guadeloupe and New Orleans!

Where are you from?
T:
I am from Paris France, I work over there. My parents are from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, which is a state of France kinda like Hawaii is a state of the US. So I am a native from France.

What is interesting about Paris?
T:
Well, Paris is known for being the city of love, the capital of fashion, culture, arts etc. You have so many things you can do in Paris from shopping to visiting museums, the Eiffel tower and the castles. You also have the lovely streets. The food is yummy I particularly like the bakeries. I love it. It is always busy. You also have the south of France with cities like Nice, Cannes, St Tropez and their nice beaches.

What is the natural hair scene like in France?
T:
The natural scene is huge in Paris, especially among people coming from the Caribbean. Seeing curly girls in the streets isn’t uncommon. It is well accepted, people don’t look at you like it is weird but instead will compliment you. But it’s weird that you don’t have many salons geared towards natural hair. If you go to a salon you can only get it braided or flat ironed.

Why did you go natural?
T:
I went natural many times, lol. When I was a kid my mom would press my hair with a hot comb, and later I got a relaxer. She wouldn’t relax my hair every 3 months, she would wait and braid my hair. When I was around 12 or something my mom went to a dermatologist who told her about the effect of relaxers. On that day she stopped relaxing my hair and my little sister’s hair and her own hair, so I had braids most of the time. Everybody at my school loved it. My teacher would say, “oh Tiga is so pretty she always has a new haircut”. So I never had issue with my hair. The only thing was that since my mum braided my hair I did not know how to care of my hair by myself. When I was 15 she fell sick and stayed at the hospital for a long time. I had nobody to do my hair so I had relaxer. The same year we moved to Guadeloupe.

When I was living over there, I saw people wearing their hair in all kind of different of ways, but mostly in its natural state. One day I told my mum to cut it off. I was 16 when I big chopped for the first time. My hair grew back and I loved it. I colored it in bright red because it was just the expression of my bubbly, explosive personality.

In 2005, I decided to do an exchange program to improve my spoken English and I chose to go to New Orleans. In August, I left for the University of New Orleans. I had my hair braided in bright red and I loved it. Unfortunately, Katrina struck New Orleans and I had to flee. Needless to say, my hair was my last worry. I had no contact with my family for a couple of days and all I had left was a suitcase with 3 pairs of underwear, 3 t‑shirts and 1 pair of jeans. We (my 2 friends and I) decided to stay in America to continue our exchange program and we went to the University of Lafayette.

I still had my bright red braids on but it was time for me to take them off, and went to put in color again. I wanted a bright red but the hairdresser messed up my hair and it came up bright orange. She told me it would be $60. My hair was braided and I guess she didn’t see that my hair was natural. As soon as she took off the braid to do my color everybody at the salon, customers and hairdressers alike, stared at me. She asked me if I wanted a relaxer and I said no thanks I am fine with just color. I could see she was kinda reluctant but she did my hair anyway and as I said it was a mess. On top of that she said that it would be $80 instead since it was hard to do my hair in its natural state. Then she asked me if I wanted to have it styled and dried for extra money. I left the salon with my hair dripping wet. My friend finished my hair at the dorm.

The next day I was feeling good and walking very confidently toward the cafeteria. As soon as I walked in everybody stopped talking. I mean literally, stopped talking. People were making comments like “Girl slavery is over. Do you know what a comb is? Probably not she is from Europe I heard they don’t have hairdressers over there”. Girls were asking me if my hairdresser went to jail. “Poor girl she was in New Orleans probably forgot her comb over there”. I was mortified.

Here I was in a foreign country with no family, feeling especially alone after Katrina and facing people making hard comments on my hair. Then when I looked around I realized that I was the only girl on the whole campus wearing my hair in its natural state. Every single black girl had their hair relaxed or braided. When talking with some black friends they were like it’s normal, it’s America people don’t like to see natural hair. If you wear your hair natural it means you are making a statement of pride and they don’t like that. It was a stressing environment.

White people were looking at me as if I had a beard, and most of them touched my hair like it was public property. I had a white Canadian friend who played soccer, and would put braids in to manage her hair. She told me her teammates called her the N word because she had braids and it was considered a black hairstyle. She did not understand the big deal, being from Canada. She had friends from everywhere, it was not unusual for her to wear braids, and nobody ever made comment about it. She told me that her coach told her to take them off because she was not an N word. She said no and he suspended her saying that her hairstyle was not appropriate for a soccer field.

After a month or two I got tired of hearing comments and I had my friend relax my hair. The next day I came to the cafeteria everybody was like, “finally”. My guy friend even told me, ” As a matter of fact you are pretty”. I noticed the difference almost immediately; I was not the different one anymore. I was the cute French girl with the sexy accent. Funny how a simple hairstyle can change everything.

My roommate then started weaving my hair. I would do it every 2 weeks and I would do a color every 2 months or so. My hair started falling off to the point I had a bald spot. I was mortified. I let people affect me and affect who I was. One day at the cafeteria two sisters came up to me and said, “You have inspired us to go natural”. I was ashamed of myself because I had given up who I was to please others while others found the courage to wear their hair natural because of me.

As my hair was falling off I did a short haircut and decided that I was not going to relax my hair anymore in 2006. Unbelievably I still have not done the big chop. My hair grew back and the relaxer fell off in the back of my head but in the very front, the very end of my hair is still relaxed. I know it is crazy. I first wanted to transition until I reached a comfortable length it has been 4 years now. My hair is shoulder length.

What’s your regimen?
T:
I try to wash my hair every two weeks, when my son (4 months old) leaves me some time to do it. When I was living in Florida I used to wash my hair with rhassoul clay, every three weeks and then every other week I would co wash with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, it has a great slip and it conditions my hair very well. I would then detangle my hair under the shower as I find it easier.

Prior to washing my hair, I would do a hot oil hair treatment, using olive oil, and coconut oil and leave it overnight. Then I would braid it and apply a mixture made of shea butter, jojaba oil, argan oil, rosemary oil to the ends of my hair. I wear protective styles like braids, twists, wigs and sometimes weaves too. On the weekend, I wear my hair out. I don’t trim my hair.

Now that I’m back in France instead of using Herbal Essences (because we don’t have it) I use yes to carrots that I buy at Sephora, I also use Timotei nutrition intense that you can find at the drugstores

What would you like to see in France in terms of haircare?
T:
I would like to see more salons geared towards natural hair.

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
T:
http://tiga-belleaunaturel.blogspot.com/

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Ebony
Ebony
10 years ago

Wow, her story is great. It’s amazing how ignorant some people are.

mixed beans
mixed beans
10 years ago

Salut Tiga! faut dire que t’as eu pas mal d’experiences négatives par rapport a tes cheveux aux states huh! contente que tu sois de nouveau naturell!! as tu essayé Yes To Cucumbers aussi? je trouve mieux que Yes To Carrots (que j’aime aussi), et puis Yes To Cucumbers a aussi un leave-in conditioner qui est pas mal du tout! Ah je savais pas qu’il y avait pas Herbal Essence en France! i loved reading your story!! you are gorgeous!! and félicitations nouvelle maman! mon fils a 8 mois maintenant! as tu eu des pertes de cehveux depuis l’accouchement? (excessive shedding?… Read more »

freeyourheart
10 years ago

wow. this this story almost had me in tears. it’s amazing how some people joke at things that they’re truly curious about. (it hurt my heart when they were talking about you being from another country & a katrina victim. that went way too far.) i put myself in that mix, too, of the ignorant people talking down about stuff they’re curious about. when my best friend said she was going natural a few years ago, i didn’t understand it. and secretly, i thought “why would she mess her hair up like that?” that was my ignorance speaking volumes about my own… Read more »

MsOverproof
MsOverproof
10 years ago

Im so sorry you had to experience that level of ignorance. Thank God it didnt completely erase who you were. Your hair is lovely.

Kara
Kara
10 years ago

This story angered me and mad me sad at the same time. But I am glad she realized that you cant let people negativity change you. Ignorance is such a shame.

Bitty Boss
10 years ago

Your hair is gorgeous. You ends are so full and your color is off the chain. Loving it!

http://adventuresinbayarealand.blogspot.com/

LBell
LBell
10 years ago

“When talking with some black friends they were like it’s normal, it’s America people don’t like to see natural hair. If you wear your hair natural it means you are making a statement of pride and they don’t like that.” Yes, because black Americans’ normal statement is one of SHAME. Don’t get me started…anyway, I’m glad you were able to overcome the negativity from my fellow Americans. Actually I wanted to comment on this statement: “My parents are from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, which is a state of France kinda like Hawaii is a state of the US.” A group of… Read more »

Shreveport
Shreveport
10 years ago

I’m truly sorry you had to endure that type of ignorance at ULL. I went there around the time you were there. It’s true there were no females on campus with natural hair. I’m glad you didn’t allow that to affect you and you kept you hair in its natural state. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait until my hair gets as long as yours. 🙂

iri9109
10 years ago

wowwww…her hair is gorgeous…i cant believe ppl would say that at all, and its even worse that she wasnt in her own country, and she had just evacuated b/c of katrina…ppl are cruel…and that story about her canadian friend was sad too…i also like your blog…apparently im still semi-fluent in reading french because i was able to understand almost everything lol…and i think its great for naturals abroad who arent too fluent in english, or just prefer to read stuff in their own language

OlivOil
OlivOil
10 years ago

Tout d’ abord, FELICITATIONS pour avoir fait renaître ton bel afro! Je comprends ce par quoi tu es passé mais je pense que cela t’as aussi rendue plus forte et plus déterminée. L’expérience que tu as eu est un bon exemple de ce que je redoutais en partant un an dans le fin fond de la Pennsylvanie l’an dernier. Je trouve vraiment dommage que des personnes qui ne te connaissent pas soient si rapides à émettre des jugements à ton encontre. Nous sommes tous différends sur cette planète et nos différences sont une force. Some people just don’t realize that… Read more »

kinksncurls
kinksncurls
10 years ago

I’m sorry your experience here in America with your natural hair was so tragic. It makes me embarrassed for my country and people. Although I do feel like natural hair is beginning to become more mainstream and accepted now. Your hair is beautiful

Soso
Soso
10 years ago

I totally understand what she is talking about I live on a island called St.Maarten/St.Martin which has a French and a dutch side. The french side I believe is just like Guadeloupe to France I believe. On the French side almost everyone is natural You will even see white girls and boys with locks but on the dutch side it’s more Amercanized so we have less people with their natural hair. Those with natural hair aren’t really looked at as strange but if you walk around with your hair out then they will look at you like you’re strange. Recently… Read more »

Home Daycare
10 years ago

Very nice story! Thanks for sharing…

BLT blacklovedandtransistioning
BLT blacklovedandtransistioning
10 years ago

You know usually when people have super long stories I just don’t read them but I’m glad I read this one. first of all: you are beautiful! second: You are very strong, not because you had a lot of trials, but because you learned and got back up. Most people are just happy to get through things, instead of learning the lesson. 3rd: i love carribean people! =] lol i am bajan and jamaican 🙂 something about caribbean people is just wonderful to me lol But that story about your friend on the soccer team is absolutely upsetting, I can’t believe… Read more »

serenissima
10 years ago

this was an excellent piece, even though it made me sad… especially the story about her friend and her statement that getting a relaxer instantly turned her into the cute girl with the sexy accent… our mentalities in this country still have SO far to go…

http://sartorialme.blogspot.com

Jnappygirl
10 years ago

Coucou consœur, tu as de très beaux cheveux et c’est vrai en France, les choses bougent enfin. Bonne continuation
http://www.journalnappygirl.com/

GINA
10 years ago

I am touched by your story my friend. Thank you for opening up and being so transparent. Your story will inspire so many women who are unsure and are seeking support. Big hug to you and your hair is gorgeous!!!

Whitney
Whitney
10 years ago

I am so sorry you were treated like that, especially in my home state (I’m from northern Louisiana) and right after Katrina, too. They were saying it out of ignorance and to be hateful.

Anyway, your hair is gorgeous, and I’m glad that you were able to inspire some girls to go natural while you were in the US. 🙂

Tiga
Tiga
10 years ago

Thank you guys 🙂

@ mixed beans. Im experiencing a little bit of shedding but nothing really serious. They only have Yes to carrots in France. But I am going to try Moroccan oil next.
@LBell yes Martiniquais.

Jaslene
Jaslene
10 years ago

Guadloupe isn’t the same as Hawaii maybe more like Puerto Rico.

Tiga
Tiga
10 years ago

It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe is also one of the twenty-six regions of France (being an overseas region.)
Region are like states here. But it is not at all as puerto rico as puerto rico is independent and puerto rican don’t have the US citizenship, whereas people born in guadeloupe have the french citizenship, get to vote for the french president. So really it is more like Hawaii

KimDione
KimDione
9 years ago

I was a student at UL Lafayette during that time.Lafayette is a bit more closed minded than larger cities in LA.A lot of blacks there are still focused on complexion,good hair and Creole/Cajun culture.I was often told I was the darkest girl in Lafayette.Since I was accustomed to it,I let it roll off my back.I also had natural hair during that time but had friends and a family support system to back me up.Dont think the entire state is ignorant, just some.There are many black women in La. who have natural hair or have never relaxed in the first place… Read more »

thelady
thelady
9 years ago

Puerto Rican’s do have US citizenship
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_rico

Ziora
Ziora
8 years ago
Reply to  thelady

But they can’t vote though

Patricia Kayden
Patricia Kayden
9 years ago

Tiga:

You are very beautiful. Loved your story. Am dying to visit France. My hubby is Haitian, so we have to go so he can practice his French and I can try to remember the little I learned in Canada.

TAB
TAB
9 years ago

Tiga,

Your hair is gorgeous and compliments your beautiful face. I’m sorry you and your friend encountered such toxic people. I am glad you did not let their opinions change how you viewed yourself. Thank you for sharing your photos and story.

Anisa
Anisa
9 years ago

You and your hair are gorgeous, it was made that way for a reason and it compliments you perfectly.

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